Friday, November 4, 2016

It Ain't Art if You Don't Bleed

It's true, felting needles are really sharp.  And it's also true that, while using one, you're going to prick yourself and draw blood sooner or later.  

"It ain't art if you don't bleed,"says my friend Kenny, who is one of the folks to whom I teach needle felting at Hartford's Chrysalis Center.

When I said that to my class of kids at the New Britain Museum of American Art, where I'm teaching felting this month, they took up the mantra.  One of them made this sign yesterday as our first class together drew to a close.

For our first class, I decided to start the kids with an image of a nebula because the spiral shape is so obvious and so easy to replicate.  Besides, there's no end of embellishment you can add to an image like this:

So I printed out a number of heavenly images and gave each child a piece of black felt.  They could chalk a pattern on the felt if they wanted to, or they could lay down the image free-hand.  For color, they would use the softest of materials:  wool roving.  And they would apply the roving with very sharp needles.
And so they did.

The colors showed up stunningly against the black felt.  For this delicate look, it was important that they learn to get their pieces of roving as thin and wispy as they could.

They got it.

I think they had fun. 

And some of them bled, so it must have been art.

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